Rafael Nadal can’t cope with injuries anymore. While he was badly beaten by Mackenzie McDonald during his second round match on the Rod Laver Arena this Wednesday morning in Melbourne, the Spaniard injured his left leg at the end of the second set. The Majorcan insisted on continuing the match but logically lost (6-4, 6-4, 7-5) against the American.
Rafael Nadal is down. After an incredible match, the Spaniard was eliminated by Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open on Wednesday morning in Melbourne. Nadal was injured at the end of the second set, and rather seriously, but he refused to give up the match and wanted to continue the fight. He finally lost it in three sets in front of a stunned Rod Laver Arena (6-4, 6-4, 7-5). As the defending champion, Rafa will lose a lot of points in the ATP rankings in a few days.
Hit in the hip in the middle of the second set, Nadal tried the impossible: continue the match on one leg. The Spaniard was immediately examined and then taken off the court for a “Medical Time Out” (which he even exceeded the time limit). However, when he returned to the court to finish the set, he did not give up. This is another trademark of the man who has only given up in the middle of a match nine times in his career, including three Grand Slam matches.
NADAL OVERWHELMED BY PAIN…
The first signs of the injury were seen at 6-4, 4-3 McDonald, on the first point of the second set. The Manacor player felt something on the left side of his leg. He then won the next point, in style, before turning to his clan, looking worried.
Then, as he tried to go for a forehand attack down the line from his rival, Nadal stopped dead in his tracks before crouching down and prostrating himself on the court fence, overcome with pain. Seeing a tough guy like him in that state was a stunning moment. The tears of his wife, who was present in the stands, were just as strong to see.
MCDONALD, THE PLAN WAS PERFECT
After the physio episode, Nadal picked up his racquet, won his service game, before losing the second set (6-4). He then played the last set on one leg, turning the match into a mental duel. Relaxed, he hit everything with his forehand, attempted improbable volleys at mid-court and won points behind his serve at the speed of light. You had to see it to believe it. This desperate effort lasted the whole set, then at 5-5 he finally lost his serve and then the match. He limped off the court and waved to the crowd before struggling up the stairs to the locker room.
And the match in all this? Mackenzie McDonald, who is quite comfortable on the Australian courts, played a near-perfect game for a set and a half. On the other side of the court, Nadal reacted very quickly. He broke at the beginning of the second set, but the Spaniard did his utmost not to give in when he was already a set behind.
At 4-6, 3-2, he threatened the 65th-ranked player in the world on his serve at 0/30, but without tipping the set in his favor. Then came the injury episode. Despite this match fact, McDonald’s victory was rather logical. Dominant when Nadal was at 100%, pounding his forehand, able to counter the Mallorcan rebellion, mentally strong in the last act, the Piedmont native did everything right in this match. The rest of the tournament is coming up for him. For Nadal, it’s time to heal the wounds – again.
A gutted Rafael Nadal says he is ‘destroyed mentally’ in the wake of his second-round exit from the Australian Open.
The reigning champion suffered a hip injury in the second set of his straight-sets loss to American Mackenzie McDonald, but battled on grimly for an hour after receiving treatment off-court.
He told reporters: “I can’t say that I’m not destroyed mentally at this time because I will be lying. It’s hard for me.”
“I considered it all the time, stopping,” he said. “I just wanted to finish the match. That’s it … I didn’t want to retire, to be the defending champion here. I didn’t want to leave the court with a retirement.”
Nadal revealed he had been battling the injury for a ‘couple of days’, but said he had not experienced anything like the level of incapacity he suffered today.
“I have been a couple of days like this. But nothing like today in that movement. I don’t know.”
“I don’t know if it’s muscle, if it’s joint. I have history in the hip, I have had issues. I have had to do treatments in the past, recently too. But it was not this amount of problem.”
Disappointment was written plainly across Nadal’s face, but the 22-time grand slam champion was at a loss for words as he weighed a heartbreaking start to his 2023 campaign.
He added: “You can imagine (how disappointed I am). I don’t need to talk and explain the feelings. It is not the right moment to have something like this now. At the end, you need to keep going.
“Sometimes it is frustrating, sometimes it is difficult to accept. Sometimes you feel super tired about all this stuff in terms of injuries.
“(I) can’t come here lying, saying that the life is fantastic.
“It’s a tough moment, it’s a tough day. You need to accept that and keep going.”
The 36-year-old Spaniard was full of praise for his American rival, saying: “Mackenzie was playing at a great level of tennis. For a long time I was there, fighting for my chances… I was not doing that well and then at some point it was the end. That’s it.”
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